Why NYC City Council Legislation Could Hurt Hotel Workers

Many Hispanics have food delivery as a source of work.

Photo: Mariela Lombard / El Diario NY

I was born and raised in Brooklyn and now live in the Bronx, where I live with my family and raise my son.

When COVID-19 swept across the country last year, I was working as a bartender. Like everyone else in the hotel business, I was fired and had to find a new way to survive on what I had. That’s when I found out about DoorDash. As the father of a newborn, this delivery job allowed me to work through my son’s erratic sleep schedule. I was proud to help my New York colleagues as an essential worker, helping to ensure New Yorkers were kept fed.

Today I go back to working in restaurants and in my spare time, I deliver with DoorDash. While it may seem like things are back to normal, and I admit it, things are looking up, but we are not there yet. There are not enough staff, restaurants are still trying to recoup their losses from last year, and our local government needs to do more to help.

While the New York City Council’s new commission cap legislation is well-intentioned, it may be doing more harm than good.

Council members are trying to pass permanent price controls on delivery rates in New York City. But these delivery rate caps will likely result in fewer deliveries, which will hurt delivery drivers and restaurants alike. Deliveries help restaurants reach new customers and the fees they pay cover the costs of delivery companies, including paying people like me and insurance for us. Ultimately, those costs increase companies’ flexibility to meet demand, attract more customers, and more money. Limiting those fees will only mean that eventually customers will pay more to cover those same costs, which means fewer orders, fewer deliveries, and fewer payments for couriers like me.

Instead, the City Council must pass legislation that creates more opportunities and protects couriers. Things such as:

Extend take-out beverage service. Take-out service boosted restaurant sales during the pandemic. Make cookout service permanent. While COVID-19 was difficult for all of us, eating outdoors improved our city and helped business. Stop NYPD attacks on delivery men. Delivery drivers not wearing helmets should be educated, not fined. Approve the City Council bill that allows delivery men to use restaurant bathrooms.

I think the City Council has done a good job supporting restaurants and delivery people during the pandemic. But this battle is not over yet. We need faster solutions to help us NOW.

So as this month’s parade celebrates our essential workers, we need to think about how we can better support our city’s workers and come back stronger than before.

(Louis Sanchez works as a delivery man)

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